When a friend visited the Philippines recently, there was a question that people asked him quite a few times.
“Of the 7,107 islands in the Philippines, how many have you visited?”
He just smiled and said: “Two. The island where Manila is, and the island where Davao is.”
During a conversation with him later, he swung the question back at me.
“Definitely more than two,” was my easy answer.
Looking back, I kind of feel bad that I couldn’t give a definite answer right away.
SO. On our Independence Day, with everyone feeling nationalistic and proud-of-the-country-like, I looked up all my previous trips to see how many Philippine Islands I’ve visited.
Out of the 7,107 islands (of which 2,000 are inhabited, says Wikipedia) I’ve only been to, as I found out, seventeen. Not a very impressive number, but I’m glad that it is indeed definitely more than two.
1. Luzon – This is no surprise, since Luzon is where Manila is, and it’s the biggest island in the archipelago. Our family was living in Batangas when I was born until we moved to Manila, and our relatives are in Bulacan and Pangasinan. There’s also the very tourist-y Baguio, the very colorful Lucban during Pahiyas, and I’ve flown to Naga a few times to visit my godmother.
2. Sepoc Island – This island is part of the Luzon Island group, and is just off of Anilao, Batangas. It’s a teeny tiny island: you can walk through the whole thing in around five minutes, I think. Nobody actually lives there, but it is an annex of Eagle Point resort, so they have simple facilities on it.
3. Palawan Island – Where Puerto Prinsesa is. It’s part of the Luzon Island group, and is the biggest island in the Palawan province. Our family went there in 2010. I made a soundtrack for it.
4-6. Cowrie Island, Pandan Island, and Luli Island are all part of Honda Bay in Palawan. Pandan Island is love.
7. Bohol is where the Chocolate Hills are. And, the tarsiers!
8. Panglao – The island right beside Bohol. You can tour it for half a day, but visiting everything it has to offer in its waters will take a bit more time. There are two beaches on this island. Stay in Alona Beach if you want food tripping in the evenings, while Dumaluan is for relaxing and dipping your toes in sea brine.
9-10. Balicasag and Virgin Island are part of the sea tour of Panglao. Balicasag is very famous for being a SCUBA dive spot, and Virgin island is a beautiful…well…virgin island.
11. Panay Island is the big island in the Visayas region where Aklan is. I haven’t explored it though: I’ve set foot on this island only to leave my plane, jump into a van, and hop into a boat to Boracay.
12. Boracay – Went there for a wedding. It’s pretty, especially during off-season, where all the partying folks are elsewhere.
13. Mindanao – The second largest island, where Davao is. I’ve visited Mindanao to go to Davao, Cagayan de Oro (and Bukidnon), and General Santos, on separate occasions. Such a beautiful island with beautiful people. I’d love, love, love to go back!
14. Samal Island – An island just off the coast of mainland Davao del Norte. The Davao Bloggers brought me there to get on this giant slide from the island and into the ocean.
15 – 17. Hundred Islands: We went to Hundred Islands when I was six. I still say it counts, but I do want to go back as an adult. There are three inhabited islands in this national park — Governor, Quezon, Children’s — but in total there are 124. (But only 123 during high tide.) Wait, does this mean I can hike up my count to 134? No? Okay.
I should write about these trips.
There’s so many more islands to visit! I’ve been (slowly) planning some kind of Philippine backpacking trip. I’m still in the research phase, though, and reading through It’s More Fun in the Philippines and travel blogs like Adventure Accounting, Wandering Weekend Warrior, Pinay Solo Backpacker, and Pinoy Adventurista, among others.
How about you? How many Philippine islands have you visited?